Our first day in Myanmar we took the Circle Train, which at the time, is ranked #3 on Tripadvisor’s Things to Do in Yangon. I was expecting to see more tourists when we arrived at the station but we had less than a handful on our train which made for a very authentic experience.
A 15 minute taxi ride took us to Central Railway Station which was very quiet around 11am when we arrived. We only had larger Kyat notes dispensed from the airport ATM the previous day so we exchanged a 1,000 kyat for smaller notes at the money exchange window at the entrance to the station. From there, we proceeded to platform 7 ticket window to purchase our ticket. We were then directed to track 4 to wait for the 11:30 train.
When the train arrived we had our choice of seats and could take pictures out of the open window. One of the locals struck up a conversation, our first opportunity to see how wonderfully nice the Burmese people are.
-Doesn’t look much different from a NYC Subway-
Along the way we had the chance to see how some of the locals live, work and play.
-House on one of the farms along the tracks-
Not surprisingly, there was much pollution and poverty to witness along the tracks. The desperate living conditions however, did not reflect in demeanor of the people riding the train. There were no beggars or pushy hawkers to detract from the experience.
-Ladies putting laundry on the tracks to dry-
Our aged carriage rocked along the tracks at a slow and deliberate pace, stopping frequently. At each stop vendors came through selling food, magazines, and tobacco.
-This lady carried a tray the size of a small dinner table on her head with a lunchtime feast made to order-
About an hour into the ride the train filled with people bringing goods to sell at the market.
-Locals transporting produce back from the market-
Kids playing the traditional Burmese game of chinlone which is a hacky sack like game played with a rattan woven ball.
-Kids playing chinlone-
The time passed quickly and we were back at Central Station. For $0.30 we experienced a slice of Burmese life and were ready to take on the rest of Yangon.
About the Circle Train:
Ticket Price: 200 Kyat (~$0.15 USD as of Jan 2016)
Station: Yangon Central Railway Station (Kun Chan Rd)
Departure Times: See photos on Wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yangon_Circular_Railway
Duration: 3 hours
Distance: 45.9 kilometers (28.5 miles)
Roundtrip Taxi: 5,000 Kyat (~$3.86 USD to/from Millennium Hotel on 54th St)